Susanne Schuberth recently wrote on her blog, “To begin with, we can say that which is appealing to the natural man is disgusting to the spiritual man. Our flesh is attracted by what we perceive with our senses to be beautiful, by watching nature, a sunset, or human beings, for instance. And what feels good to our bodies is appealing to us as well. This is not wrong in itself since God put a longing for beauty and enjoyment into our very hearts. However, our God is Spirit, not flesh!” (1)
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1John 2:15-17, RSV)
What appealed to Eve in her natural person was what Satan targeted and he has gone on to do the same with every human since. Regarding the nature of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and her reaction to it we read:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.”(Gen 3:6, RSV)
She saw that it was good for food — “the lust of the flesh.” She saw that it was a delight for her eyes to look upon — “the lust of the eyes.” She saw that was desirable to make her wise — “the pride of life.” This is the root of all sin and how Satan tempts us. He has perfected this method of luring mankind to fall into his traps and taking them captive. This is exactly how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He tempted Jesus to use His God given ability to turn stones into bread so He could eat after fasting 40 days — “the lust of the flesh.”
But Jesus answered, “It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”
Then Satan tried another piece of his arsenal, tempting Jesus with a show of the glories of the kingdoms of the world to appeal to the lust of the eyes. If Jesus caved to that temptation, they would all be His because they were Satan’s to give. All He had to do was bow down and worship the devil.
But Jesus answered him, “Be gone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
Then there is the pride of life. What form would that temptation come in?
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,’ and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”
Ah, yes! If Satan can’t get a man to fall to the lusts of the eyes and the flesh (and he does quote scripture), he pulls out the old standby–tempt him with holy things — tempt him to use his spiritual powers to make a show if it before all the righteous ones that they might follow him and give him the honor that belongs to God.
This is the sneakiest temptation of them all. Aren’t we who are born of the Spirit of God the children of the King? Aren’t the gifts of the Spirit He has given us subject to us and given “without repentance.”? Shouldn’t we use them to show all men what God does for those who are His chosen ones? Won’t they see this and bow down before us in tremendous altar calls at our feet, all for “the glory of God”? What a near miss! Yet, this is done every day in the name of “bringing men and women to Christ” for the sake of building up the kingdoms of men. What a difference we see in the attitude of the first apostles in the early church!
And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycao’nian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief speaker, they called Hermes. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying, “Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them…” With these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. (Acts 14:11-18, RSV)
Yes, we can gain the admiration and riches of the whole world in the business of God and lose our souls. Jesus made it clear that if we lift Him up before all men, and not ourselves, He will draw all men to Him and not to us! The idolatry that exists today in the name of the Living God is nothing more than Satan feeding the pride of life!
Man is by nature now a deceived creature. Deception is deception, and the deceived never know it until they are enlightened or delivered. It is like a disease. There are forms of mental sickness which cause those who are so suffering to believe certain things which to the healthy mind are ridiculous and impossible. It is useless to argue with them, and futile to try to convince them of the untruth of their beliefs. Indeed, it is cruel at times to oppose them. If you are to live with them in any measure of peace and be at all helpful you have to take the attitude of agreeing with them and deal with the situation along some other line. Otherwise it is going to be continual clash. The only way to change their convictions is to heal their sickness.
So it is with man. He believes many things as to himself, his ability, potentialities, destiny, about God and about the world, which are not true. He mistakes certain things for other things, but he cannot see that he is deceived. It is useless to hold objects before a blind man, and to tell him to see them; and it is foolish to be surprised or annoyed that he does not do so. So the Scriptures say, “The natural (soulical) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them…” (1 Cor 2:14). And again, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Cor 4:4).
Now, when we go to the source of this deceived condition, we find that it originated in the soul. The Deceiver assailed the soul—desires, reason, will—and drew this out as a basis of life apart from and independent of God. The motive was to have things in the ego, the self, instead of in God by dependence. Having succeeded in getting man to so exalt the ego to independence and superiority, he captured man as now a suited instrument for his purposes. Man ceased to be suited to the purposes of God, for his very nature was changed. This man, changed by complicity with Satan, is a false man, not a true man according to God’s mind; and is now suited to Satan’s false kingdom. The history of man in his natural state is the history of a lie, a false nature, a false expectation, a false hope, a false faith and a false world. (2)
Dear saints, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head [Jesus Christ]…” (Col 2:18-19, RSV). There is no substitution for the power of the personal flesh killing cross in the life of one who would be a disciple of Christ. “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule…” (Gal 6:14-16, RSV)